Saturday, October 31, 2015

a post for Reformation Day and some thoughts on watchblogging, don't start unless you realize failure is certain.
Had that dream again where the bloggers won and our church closed down.
12:35 AM - 28 Jul 2015

Justin Dean can certain tweet that he had that dream again where "the bloggers won" and a church closed down.  But embedded in all of those few words are a host of assumptions that beg the question of just what "the bloggers" wanted, let alone that "the bloggers" won.

When I started blogging nearly ten years ago I was pretty happy to be a part of Mars Hill.  There was that one guy who kept saying stuff in public that seemed a bit reckless but I believed in the community being able to be a positive influence in the region.  This blog didn't start to become what was colloquially known as a watchblog until a few years later, and by dribs and drabs.

What I hoped could happen is that relationships could be mended, that the culture of not quite competent fiscal management and a sense of entitlement in the leadership set could be reformed.  I was hoping that by sharing for the public record what was seen and heard about the history of Mars Hill that some practical reform and reconciliation could occur, if possible.

But not much of that, if any, has necessarily occurred.  The bloggers didn't win.  The bloggers failed and will probably continue to fail more often than succeed.  Justin Dean is welcome to imagine that the bloggers won but if what the bloggers wanted was serious reform coming to Mars Hill then Mars Hill's dissolution isn't "winning", it's more failure. 

It's remarkable that in a mere three years and a couple of months in Justin Dean's tenure handling communications at Mars Hill the company went from being one of the most well-known churches in the region to closing its doors after years of controversy. There may well have been nothing Dean could have said or done to have changed what happened. 

But bloggers didn't "win".  The bloggers failed.  This is a point worth repeating because for those who might consider any kind of activity that speaks to people you have to consider that failure is always a possibility.  Even if you're a prophet directly commissioned by God you have to be able to deal with the reality and even inevitability of failure.

Don't believe that?  Well, if the calling of the greatest prophet in the Old Testament is any indicator, there may be tasks you take up on obedience to what you understand the Lord has providentially given you to do where failure is guaranteed up front.  It was for Isaiah.
Isaiah 6:8-13
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
He said, “Go and tell this people:

“‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
    be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’

Make the heart of this people calloused;
    make their ears dull
    and close their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
    hear with their ears,
    understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”

Then I said, “For how long, Lord?”
And he answered:

“Until the cities lie ruined
    and without inhabitant,
until the houses are left deserted
    and the fields ruined and ravaged,

until the Lord has sent everyone far away
    and the land is utterly forsaken.

And though a tenth remains in the land,
    it will again be laid waste.
But as the terebinth and oak
    leave stumps when they are cut down,
    so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.”

I'd read enough of the prophets and what Jesus said about them to realize that if you are drawn to a prophetic role you have to go into it understanding that failure is a foregone conclusion.  Failure won't excuse you from speaking up.  Go back and meditate on Ezekiel 33 and tell me that failure is any excuse for not speaking up about what you have seen and heard. 

Now don't start too quickly into "but Isaiah predicted the coming of Jesus".  Isaiah being used by the Holy Spirit to write things down that were later interpreted for our benefit as things written in reference to Christ is not necessarily the same thing as saying that when Isaiah wrote that he knew what he was writing in the way we, who look back on how Christ fulfilled the writings in Isaiah, do now.  Consider that in spite of all of the prophets and their prophecy, Israel and Judah still ended up in exile just like Deuteronomy warned they would.

I've been wondering lately if the reason so few speak with a prophetic voice in American Christianity is so few people are willing to speak if they don't have an assurance of successful results. They only want to say "I'm called to be a prophet" if it means called to be a success, preferably a success with a book deal like the other prophets, never mind that the prophetic books we have in the Bible were compiled during an exilic and post-exilic canonization process.  Never mind what's actually in Isaiah 6.  This is America, and even failure is just supposed to be a stepping stone to a newer and greater season of grace (i.e. success), not just plain old failure before a great disaster that sends God's people into miserable exile.

If you're going to embark on something resembling a prophetic activity you have to be willing to fail, fail miserably, and even be vilified for what you have attempted to undertake.  You have to be willing to do it out of love for Christ and His people.  Any motive less than that and you're basically just doing it for yourself.

in which Mark Driscoll imagines that eavesdropping in a bronze age court is the same as reading what self-selecting celebrities post to Twitter this week--two years ago this week, "The Hardest Part of Ministry"
October 19, 2015
...Eavesdropping was apparently a problem 3000 years ago. Sadly, the Internet has only made things worse. It used to be that only God could really peer into the daily events of a person’s life – seeing what they do, hearing what they say. But, now we can all be a little like God peering in on everyone else’s life, seeing their photos, reading their posts, and obsessing over their opinion of us. The problem is, there is usually somebody somewhere saying something about us that they would never say to our face. If we are living for the approval and “likes” of our fan base, we are doomed for destruction. Every single one of us has said some things about others that we hope never gets back to them, so we have to cut others some slack. Flame throwing online is now a global hobby and produces nothing but misery. Before long, the world is invited in, and like monkeys at the zoo, the poo flinging commences. Solomon’s advice is the best – ignore it. There are better things to do – like pretty much anything.

This is a category error of magically, willfully foolish proportions.  Now we can all be a little like God peering in on everyone else's life because people are using social media and mass media tools without thinking through what "for the record" means.  Leave it to the guy who apparently imagined that posting lengthy rants as William Wallace II might not come back to haunt him to propose that we get to be a little like God for ... reading what people put on social media of their own volition for the world to read.

It's not exactly eavesdropping if you voluntarily publish in social and mass media, though, which is an essential failure in the chain of thought here.

If you don't want people commenting about something you publish in social and mass media you can disable comments so the commentary is at most indirect. You can also opt to not publish to begin with.  Thematically this gets to something ... Driscoll shared at the top of this week, October 26, that it was the birthday of one of his kids.
October 26, 2015   

12 Honors for Fathers of Daughters

Along with meeting Jesus and having a wife, there is nothing that changes a man for the better more than having a daughter. Life is filled with many gifts, and a daughter is a special gift. As a man with two daughters, I am doubly blessed. This week our youngest daughter, Alexie, turned 12. In light of her birthday, I thought of 12 honors that God the Father bestows on those of us with daughters.

October 26 was a date that rung a bell, a very particular bell.

So even though two years ago Driscoll was fretting about how the most soul-aching part of ministry was the danger his wife and children were in on account of his public figure/ministry role it's two years later and he's shown his repentance of how he's conducted himself on social and mass media by choosing to not get his children or wife in any way involved in his public ministry?
or showing up for the camera when Brian Houston did an interview

He's still using social media to include his children in the media immersion experience of whoever follows Mark Driscoll Ministries.  And his wife is contributing content. 

Look, if a parent is concerned their kid gets flak for being the kid of somebody famous or controversial that's a totally fair concern.  But "The Hardest Part of Ministry" was published TWO YEARS AGO.  What is it about the Phoenix area that's so much safer than Woodway that it's alright keep the social media thing going mentioning all the kids? Wouldn't a consistent application of concern for the kids not getting dragged into the controversies associated with dad and repenting of any activities that risked that be something like ... well ... not continuing to use your kids as an opportunity to post

As to "Flame throwing online is now a global hobby" surely Mark Driscoll writes as someone who has himself never, ever decided to post any vaguely or insinuatingly inflammatory statements about famous people he's never met, right?

Praying for our president, who today will place his hand on a Bible he does not believe to take an oath to a God he likely does not know.
8:17 AM - 21 Jan 2013

Strange that two years from the day he published "The Hardest Part of Ministry" and a week after he talked about the badness of social media making eavesdropping so easy he has his dozen bits about being a daddy to a daughter.  If you really want people to not comment about what you do with social and broadcast media you can either not use it, or use it in a way where you don't include all of the family you lamented two years ago had to face struggles because of how people reacted to stuff you put on social and broadcast media.

There's still "there's a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus" (discussed some here) and Mark Driscoll has never issued an apology for his pre-emptive "A Blog Post for the Brits". If Mark Driscoll wants to bemoan how bad it is that people have made flame throwing online a global hobby he's the pot calling the kettle black.

Ted Gioia makes a case that now's a time to resume a search for musical universals (a sometimes rambling excerpt of how he shifted from the "incommensurability" paradigm)

Few things get music scholars more nervous than cross-cultural comparisons. The field of ethnomusicology, which was invented to inquire into this very subject, has grown increasingly uneasy with this part of its mission. The ethnomusicologist, in the words of Bruno Nettl, does not seek out such comparisons, but rather serves as “the debunker of generalizations.” Anthony Seeger has offered a similar perspective, expressing his resistance to “the privileging of similarities over differences.” In other words, if human beings from different cultures share certain musical proclivities and practices, academics in the field would rather not hear about it.

The prevalence of this resistant attitude is so extreme that researchers Steven Brown and Joseph Jordania, in their recent consideration of the subject, were forced to conclude that “many decades of skepticism have prevented the field of musicology from embracing the importance of musical universals.” When the subject is addressed, they add, it is almost always in the form of “meta-critiques about the concept of universals,” rather than actual consideration of empirical evidence. This would be peculiar under any circumstances, but is especially so given the growing amount of evidence that runs counter to the isolationist assumptions of the academic music community.
Yet music scholars are hardly alone in their preference for differences over similarities. Their views reflect a prevailing paradigm embedded in a wide range of cultural studies during the middle decades of the 20th century. Individual cultures, in the influential words of anthropologist Ruth Benedict, “are traveling along different roads in pursuit of different ends, and these ends and these means in one society cannot be judged in terms of those of another society, because essentially they are incommensuarable.” Let physicists seek out unified theories — in the human sciences the motto has long been vive la diffĂ©rence.

In truth, any field of comparative study, including musicology, cannot dispense with comparisons and generalizations. And even amidst a scholarly field that is suspicious of universal rules, the quest to identify them recurs with each generation. It was a dominant theme in the 19th century, when cross-cultural studies were pursued by ambitious systematizers who hoped to encompass all human behavior and practices in their grand schemas. In the 20th century, this approach often came under attack, but still reappeared in strange, new guises, under names such as structuralism, Jungian archetypes, or cantometrics, among others. Musicology has not been entirely immune to these approaches, but for most of its recent history it has tended more toward the “incommensurability” camp, preferring to assess individual trees rather than describe the forest.

I would argue that the time has come to question this allegiance to the particular and reconsider the explanatory value of musical universals. Important recent findings in related fields, for example Harvard professor E.J. Michael Witzel’s paradigm-changing exploration of the origins of human mythology, present a serious challenge of the incommensurability model and should not be ignored by music scholars. In linguistics, increasing focus on language macrofamilies, for example in the work of Joseph Greenbesrg or the Russian Nostratic linguists, is having a similar impact; the same is true of the genetic research into the so-called “African Eve.” At the same time, the expanding claims of neuroscience increasingly encompass the field of music, and though many of the assertions of scientists in these fields are reductionist and clumsy, the more incisive biological research tends to support the universalist approach. In a peculiar turnabout, the systematizers have returned, but they are now publishing peer-reviewed clinical studies in scientific journals instead of constructing the fanciful taxonomies of the past.

And how do music scholars respond to this body of research? For the most part, they act as if it doesn’t exist. Ethnomusicologists and neuroscientists teach at the same universities, but apparently they don’t talk to each other. The music experts insist that every local performance tradition is unique and incommensurable, while across campus the scientists are demonstrating that all song traditions converge on the basis of universal human characteristics. Perhaps someone should bring these folks together for lunch and have them work out their differences?


Over the last two decades, I have found myself gradually forced to abandon the incommensurability doctrine and accept — at first begrudgingly, but over time with a growing confidence and certainty — the existence of a whole host of musical universals, ones that are typically ignored or downplayed in world music studies.


So the time has come for the pendulum to shift once again. In the 21st century, researchers into musical cultures may do rightly to question rigorously the privileging of particularities over similarities and be bolder in opening their purview to the commonalities of human music-making. As practitioners of a cross-cultural discipline, this has always been an obligation — but today, more than ever, it also represents best practices and sound methodology.

Yet what a pleasant state of affairs! The idea that ethnomusicology serves some higher purpose by stressing how little we have in common is a peculiar tenet. This view is deeply ingrained in the field but would deserve questioning even if we didn’t have so much evidence that it promotes a flawed methodology. Wouldn’t scholars rather devote their energies to showing how much our interests and practices converge, rather than emphasize our differences and incompatibilities? Isn’t that part of the higher mission of the arts and humanities and perhaps more timely today than at any juncture in the past? So those who love music shouldn’t feel threatened by the contributions of the sciences and social sciences to the study of human music-making. Rather than representing outside influences, they may serve as invaluable reminders of music’s power to break down boundaries and geographical divides. Perhaps reaffirming our respect of this remarkable capacity of music might even help us overcome these divisions in other spheres of social life.

As someone persuaded by experimentation that the boundaries between sonatas and ragtime and between 18th century contrapuntal approaches and blues riffs are all, ultimately, permeable, I'm inclined to agree.  To piggyback a bit on Ethan Iverson's blogging earlier this year ...

If you can take, say, guitar works by the early 19th century masters of the instrument and demonstrate thematic/melodic connections to a song performed by Johnny Cash, you'd think this would be a case that we should not think of musical styles as locked down. 

Did that a week ago

If the people at Yale don't want to teach jazz as part of the Western musical tradition (at all) that's too bad, and mistaken.  We're reaching the point that blues is more than a century old, easily. As in 12-bar.

Something Charles Rosen pointed out in The Classical Style, if memory serves, was that what Haydn and Mozart and Beethoven managed to do was synthesize the academic and popular music idioms of their time and place.  Something Leonard B Meyer pointed out decades ago that I don't just so happen to agree with is that what in the 18th century musical language was a thought process was misunderstood and misapplied by 19th century theorists and pedagogues as plug-in forms and formulas. Not a big shock there if the 19th century theorists began to feel as though fugues and sonatas were dead rituals if they misunderstood sonata and fugue because they took a reductionist approach to begin with.  Bach might use a tonal answer where Handel might use a real answer.  If the "textbook" sonata form had two contrasting themes in two contrasting keys what about all those Haydn sonatas (or some by Clementi, too) where there was just one core idea? 

Thanks to generations considering Mozart more "deep" than Haydn, I think Haydn's wonderful capacity to synthesize folk and scholastic elements can be overlooked.  His music isn't for everyone, sure, but if Richard Taruskin is genuinely concerned that art music has become arid and isolated from ordinary people on the one hand, and popular styles cultivate blunt bodily reactions on the other I think a shortfall, much though I enjoy a lot of what he has to say, is that an academic approach to music that brackets off musical styles as having impermeable boundaries will reinforce the problem. 

And we may have to settle for exploring musical commonalities at a more lay level or a practical musician's level.  If I doubt that someone will want to listen to a Haydn string quartet that doesn't mean I can't introduce them to the idea of a rondo.  Stevie Wonder's "Contusion" can be heard as a five-part rondo.  If anything what I would suggest pop music over the last century has championed that classical music has often flubbed is the beautiful simplicity and elegance of its forms. 

I understand why people are worried that symphonies play the same old repertoire and big musical institutions devoted to classical music are having a rough go of it.  As someone who's never been a career musician inside that track it's too bad to watch those institutions falter but guitarists are already considered functionally outside the mainstream of classical music.  Matanya Ophee's "Repertoire Issues" may be stirring the pot decades later but it seems on point.  When music critics at The Guardian can, decade after decade, talk about how innately and inherently limited classical guitar literature is they may just keep proving they don't know it that well. They might not like Angelo Gilardino's guitar sonatas if they heard them but they're out there to be heard.

Meanwhile, well, there's other points that could be made about Gioia's proposal that we actually look for musical universals but I don't feel like writing those on a weekend, or at least not this weekend.  Or at least not right now.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Links for the weekend

Robert Gundry's got a book out proposing that the Gospel of Matthew presents Peter as an apostate within its narrative

HT Jim West for linking to a short review over here.

The proposal is for just Matthew as a literary document, not a theory extended to the bishop of Rome, for those with anti-Papist agendas.

In a long but potentially useful Captain Obvious article, The Atlantic notes how little longitudinal studies have been done about friendship.

Maybe all the scientists were so worried about being scooted into the "friend zone" they never bothered to do any such research?  If so the scientists in academic settings should stop being so eager to transform academia in a place to score.

Besides ... at least according to Slate the World Health Organization is now saying most of the human race has herpes

Someone over at the Guardian is sure Blofeld is coming.  Why?
Why do I know? Well, in 2013 the Bond producers settled that epic, half-century-old, Jarndyce v Jarndyce-style lawsuit with Danjaq Productions over rights to the characters from Thunderball. Among other things, it grants them the right to revive the serial villain who appeared in three Bond novels and five of the Connery adaptations.

and ye shall spoil the plot of the movie (perhaps) by keeping tabs on lawsuits.

An older something on "Maleficient syndrome", our American obsession with stories of how villains became villains.  Give Maleficent a backstory and it makes her more relatable or, as the author muses, it gives us an illusion of understanding what causes people to turn evil which could, in turn, be a kind of illusion of control.  Appropos of villains on screen, Christopher Nolan and brother reached the conclusion that there was no point in giving the Joker an origin story (he famously went with a ... multiple choice paradigm). There is a point past which understanding (if that can even be done) the natural and efficient cause of the origin of the evil will doesn't really explain much.  And since over in City of God no less than Saint Augustine said he could not think of a natural or efficient cause to explain the origin of the evil will ... .

Remember Terence Trent D'Arby? I was blissfully unable to remember any of his songs for decades. Well, if you'd like to read a lot about him and what he's up to now, and his conspiracy theory that his career was torpedoed by Michael Jackson ...

As for another kind of imagined fight ...

This is not a call for fights to get hyper-graphic. And it’s not a call for fight scenes to get as detailed and expansive as they are in the action and superhero movies. (TV can’t compete with movies on scope. Trying to go big, when TV’s bigness will almost always be on a smaller budget, is what has led to so many bland sequences. And besides, most fight scenes from superhero movies are boring too—they just cost $20 million more and took up 30 more minutes of your life.) But it is a call for fight scenes to come with some consequences, a smidge of doubt.

TV’s best fight scenes, in shows that regularly stage them, have both. The one-take hallway fight in Netflix’s Daredevil was logistically ambitious for television, but it also took a physical toll on Daredevil, who by the end was bleeding and lurching around, barely able to stand. The Americans has had some rousing fight scenes because the show is not afraid to let Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings get wounded. Speaking to my colleague June Thomas, Americans co-showrunner Joel Fields explained “We’ve gone from having them be perfect martial artists to people who can get hit and who can be hurt.” If the heroes always win and never get hurt, a fight scene is just a bunch of sound effects.

Having finally gotten around to seeing Daredevil season 1, it was pretty fun.  Not for the younger ones, though. I was intrigued to read a critic say the series had learned "the right lessons from Christopher Nolan", which featured a Batman who could beat up a bunch of bad guys and then get taken down (literally) by a big angry dog.

While Batman comics fans have complained loudly and often about Bale-man's shortcomings as the world's greatest detective and martial arts what I've liked about Nolan's take on Batman is his Batman makes incredibly stupid mistakes and even lives long enough to see himself become a kind of villain by the end of the Dark Knight (for people who weren't quite paying attention to Nolan's catalog-spanning obsession with depicting men who delude themselves into doing terrible things in the mistaken assumption it's the one and only right thing to do).  Or to put it another way, as I've been intermittently happy and annoyed to read Scott Snyder's run, Nolan's Batman is not a reader-or-author surrogate as has begun to seem too much the case with the comics themselves.   I had an angry post with a working title of "NOBODY CARES ABOUT JARVIS PENNYWORTH!" incubating but the moment passed.  Maybe later.


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Mark Driscoll on climbing the ladder, how discontent is bad if accompanied by envy, and revisiting a quote from Driscoll about how he approached Mars Hill in 2002
from October 15, 2015

In Western culture, the adults have invented a new game that I like to call “Climb the Ladder.” In Climb the Ladder you look at those people who are above you on the rungs of success. You spend so much time looking at life on their rung – such as the car they drive, house they live in, clothes they wear, food they eat, and social events they enjoy – that when you look down at your rung beneath them you find yourself unhappy. You try your best to get up to their place on the ladder, only to repeat the entire process once you get there and realize there is always something that looks “better.” Some people play this game until they go broke and fall off the ladder. Other people who “win” at the game, get to the top of the ladder only to jump off because they feel miserable being criticized, stolen from, and attacked by everyone on the ladder below who are fighting for their place.

Discontent and envy go together like gas and a match. Both are dangerous, and when combined they are deadly.

Discontent happens when we are not satisfied with the life that we have. Discontent is not always a bad thing. For example, a married couple may feel discontent about the condition of their marriage, which compels them to work wholeheartedly on their friendship. That kind of discontent happens when we compare how our life is, in comparison to what it could be if we walked in obedience to God and the fullness of what he has for us.

Discontent is always a bad thing when it is accompanied by envy. Envy is what happens when we start to covet the life of someone else, a life that God has not intended for us. For example, a married couple may feel discontent and envy about the condition of their marriage, which compels them to start comparing their spouse to other people they would rather be with. This can lead them toward emotional and/or physical adultery, which can happen slowly as they allow the feeling to grow privately. Feelings like this need to be repented of quickly so it doesn’t provide opportunity for destruction in the marriage.

Isn't it quaint how when people are higher up on the ladder they somehow must be miserable from being criticized, stolen from, attacked by everyone on the ladder below.  Mark Driscoll's plagiarism controversy erupted almost two years ago and since then a whole bunch of Driscoll books have been retroactively fixed. 

It's also quaint how he keeps coming back to marriage.  If there's any precedent in the life of Mark Driscoll for envy, well, he did write in Real Marriage about how resentful he was that his fearful and frigid wife wasn't putting out as much as he wanted in the sex department. But from the earliest days Mark Driscoll half joked about plotting "world domination".

But to get a fuller appreciation for Driscoll's ambitions it will be useful to highlight a few times in which he's insisted that his desires are modest.  For instance ....
An Update from Pastor Mark
August 24, 2014
I may be an author, a speaker, and a thought-provoker; but in the deepest recesses of my heart, I’m a local church pastor, and that’s what I want to give the rest of my life for. ...
Which was why he quit just a couple of months later?  Because he was soooo committed in the deepest recesses of his heart to being a local church pastor? After he'd spent years writing and saying stuff like "6 reasons I'm not going anywhere"?  Well now he's in Phoenix.

Let's consider now what Driscoll explained to Brian Houston earlier this year.

I've made a lot of mistakes and one of them was going too fast. There's the Lord's calling and there's the Lord's timing and I should have waited longer. I should have been under godly spiritual authority, for Grace and I to be under a godly couple, that was [a] senior pastor, so that we could learn and grow. I, I, my character was not caught up with my gifting and I did start to young. And I believe God called us to start the church and he was very, very, very gracious to us, uh, but had I to

do it over again I would not look at a 25-year old and say, "Do what I did."

... We went into the urban core and we felt, specifically, called to go after young, college-educated males. That was really my heart. I wanted everybody to meet Jesus but I felt particularly if we were gonna make in the city and the legacy of families and, you know, the way that women and children and culture treated, that getting young men to love Jesus would be paramount. So that was really the focus and I didn't think the church would amount to much. [emphasis added] The first three years we didn't collect a salary; it was very small; we met at night; we moved a lot because we kept losing our rental location; the offices were in our house, so it wasn't a big deal and we didn't anticipate that it would become what it ultimately did.

As we've discussed earlier ...

that wasn't even all that Mark hoped could be done.  Observe this screen capture ...

God's Work, Our Witness Part 1
Pastor Mark Driscoll

about 12:30 in
You know, and I thought, for sure, we’d probably tap out at two hundred. I thought if we can get this
thing to two hundred, that would be amazing.

And I had big vision for more. I put together a forty-page vision statement. I said, “We’re going to
start a school. We’re going to plant churches. We’re going to do a record label.” I had this whole vision, and I handed it out to, like, fifteen people, and they’re like, “Are you kidding me?”

So I had big dreams. But to be honest with you, man, if we could just get up to two hundred, I thought that would be amazing.

Say what?  About 200?
From "Seasons of Grace" by Mark Driscoll

In the fourth season, we launched the church in October 1996 at 6pm with an attendance around 200, which included many friends and supporters. The attendance leveled off shortly thereafter, somewhere around 100 adults, and we continued meeting until the Christmas season.

So at the launch of Mars Hill Church, according to Mark Driscoll's "Seasons of Grace" they had already launched at the number that Driscoll was saying in the 2011 film would be "amazing".

Back in 2006, of course, Driscoll jovially described his ambitions for "world domination".

Confessions of a Reformission Rev
Mark Driscoll
Copyright (c) 2006 by Mark Driscoll
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-27016-4
ISBN-10: 0-310-27016-2
CHAPTER ONE: Jesus, Our Offering was $137 and I Want to Use it to Buy Bullets
0-45 people

from pages 53-54
So in an effort to clarify our mission, I wrote down on paper the first of what would eventually be many strategic plans. I shot for the moon rather foolishly and decided that our church that was not big enough to fill a bus would plant multiple churches, run a concert venue, start a Bible institute, write books, host conferences, and change the city for Jesus. I started handing out these goals printed on boring white paper without any graphics, colors, or cool fonts, naively assuming that it would all happen eventually just because it was what Jesus wanted.

To get leaders in place for world domination, I also spent time trying to articulate the vision in my head to good men who would be qualified to rise up as fellow elders-pastors. So, as Jesus did, I spent time in prayer asking the Father which of his sons should be trained for leadership. The church started as an idea I shared with Lief Moi and Mike Gunn. Lief is a descendant of Genghis Khan and his dad was a murderer, and Mike is a former football player. They proved to be invaluable, except for the occasional moments when they would stand toe-to-toe in a leadership meeting, threatening to beat the Holy Spirit out of each other. Both men were older than I and had years of ministry experience, and they were good fathers, loving husbands, and tough. ...
So if 200 would have been amazing why didn't Driscoll settle for that 200?

Confessions of a Reformission Rev
Mark Driscoll, Zondervan 2006
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-27016-4
350-1,000 people
pages 135-136

A very wise friend who is a successful business entrepreneur, Jon Phelps, [WtH, for more on Phelps]shared an insight with me around this time that was very clarifying. He said that in any growing organization, there are three kinds of people, and only two of them have any long-term future with a growing organization. First, there are people on the rise who demonstrate the uncanny ability to grow with the organization and become vital leaders. Second, there are people who attach themselves to the people on the rise as valuable assistants who rise by being attached to someone else on the rise. Third, there are people who neither rise nor attach to anyone who is rising, and they cannot keep up with the growing demands of the organization. These people fall behind, and the organization can either allow their inability to slow down the whole team or release them and move forward with out them. This is difficult to do because they are often good people  who have been partly responsible for the success of the organization. But the needs of the organizational mission, not the individual in the organization, must continually remain the priority if there is to be continued success.

Up until this point, nearly everyone in the church had been connected to me, and I could no longer pull them all up with me. Simply, leaders needed to rise on their own or attach themselves to other people on the rise, or they would have to be let go.

So we made all these difficult decisions, and the church stabilized. Finally, we had facilities, money, men rising up to lead, intentional community housing, a successful concert venue, and a church that seemed organized to us. We had grown a church of one thousand people in a tough urban culture despite massive hardship. With things going so well, I feared we'd get too comfortable, and so I decided it was time to blow it all up, create some strategic chaos, and start over again. [emphasis added]


1,000 to 4,000 people
from pages 140-141

It was a warm spring day and I sat in my office at the church, gazing out the window at large white clouds blowing through a clear blue sky, enjoying our success. I had lost about forty pounds by shifting from the Fatkins to the Atkins diet, had paid off all the personal debts I had accrued as a broke pastor, had fitted up the old home for my family, was getting closer to my lovely wife, was enjoying my three children while looking forward to a fourth, finally owned a vehicle with less than 200,000 miles on it, and was the pastor of one of the largest churches in our city at the age of thirty-one. My eye no longer twitched, I wasn't throwing up from acid reflux, and my vertigo had cleared up.

I was sitting at my new desk, which was the first piece of furniture I had ever owned that was not a donated hand-me down. ... We owned our church building outright and had money in the bank. I had a large staff for a church our size and was sleeping like a Calvinist at nights because things were under control.

On that day I had only a few appointments, with lengthy breaks in between. I decided to walk down to the deli a few blocks away and get a Reuben sandwich on sourdough bread and some fresh air. On the way back, I walked barefoot and remember thinking these simple pleasures had made the day one of the most relaxing and satisfying days I ever had. But by the time I walked back to the church, I realized I was already getting bored. There was no dragon to slay, no hill to charge, no battle to fight, and no foe to conquer. [emphasis added]

It was the winter of 2002, and our church had fought through hell and gone from homeless to one thousand people--a big deal in Seattle. I had nearly killed myself and had gotten the church to the comfort zone.
In other words, it doesn't matter how content Mark Driscoll says he is with his current life.  He spent a decade talking about how satisfied he was by his marriage to Grace before he turned around and rigged up a bestseller complaining about how fearful and frigid she really was.  Driscoll's already told us his ambition to change the world and have a legacy is big.  He's already told us about the times when he was afraid he'd get too comfortable or that because he got bored it was time to blow everything up and start over.

He's not going to be content just being a guy who isn't a pastor, the Dick Nixon of megachurch pastors in the 21st century.  He's probably going to want to start a new church, a church that he can be the public voice at.  He may not bother with the formality of being "Reformed" this time.  Driscoll's demonstrated the level of his ambition already and it seems mprobable he won't try to relaunch his career.

Now that he's mentioned how he's settling into the Phoenix area that's probably where he may try to re:launch and re:brand.  Dave Bruskas is already in that area.  At an informal level a good deal of the networking that was once meant to be around New Mexico as a hub for future Mars Hill expansion might still exist. 

It doesn't much matter how content Mark Driscoll says he is, discontent and the ambition to shape a legacy has been what has driven Mark Driscoll since the dawn of his public career.  Don't expect that to change at all.  Driscoll has said in the past that he's wondered if he would even keep doing the pastor thing if, well, we can let Driscoll speak for himself.

Part 22 of 1st Corinthians
Pastor Mark Driscoll | 1 Corinthians 10:1-14 | June 18, 2006

Here’s the tricky part: Figuring out what your idols are. Let me give you an example. Let’s say for example, you define for yourself a little Hell. For you, Hell is being poor. For you, your definition of Hell is being ugly. For you, your definition of Hell is being fat. For you, your definition of Hell is being unloved. For you, your definition of Hell is being unappreciated. That fear of that Hell then compels you to choose for yourself a false savior god to save you from that Hell. And then you worship that false savior god in an effort to save yourself from your self-described Hell. So, some of you are single. Many of you are unmarried. For you, Hell is being unmarried and your savior will be a spouse. And so you keep looking for someone to worship, to give yourself to so that they will save you. For some of you, you are lonely and your Hell is loneliness, and so you choose for yourself a savior, a friend, a group of friends or a pet because you’ve tried the friends and they’re not dependable. And you worship that pet. You worship that friend. You worship that group of friends. You will do anything for them because they are your functional savior, saving you from your Hell. That is, by definition, idolatry. It is having created people and created things in the place of the creator God for ultimate allegiance, value and worth.

So here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to get incredibly personal. This will get painfully uncomfortable if I do my job well. I’m going to ask you some probing questions. We’re going to try to get to the root of your idols and mine and I am guilty. I was sitting at breakfast this morning. My wife said, “So what is your idol?” I was like, “Hey, I’m eating breakfast! Leave me alone. I don’t want to talk about that.” I’m the pastor. I preach. I don’t get preached at. Eating bacon. Don’t ruin it. You know, it’s going good., And I told her, I said, “Honey, I think for me, my idol is victory.” Man, I am an old jock. More old than jock, lately, but I – I’m a guy who is highly competitive. Every year, I want the church to grow. I want my knowledge to grow. I want my influence to grow. I want our staff to grow. I want our church plants to grow. I want everything – because I want to win. I don’t want to just be where I’m at. I don’t want anything to be where it’s at. And so for me it is success and drivenness and it is productivity and it is victory that drives me constantly. I – that’s my own little idol and it works well in a church because no one would ever yell at you for being a Christian who produces results. So I found the perfect place to hide. [emphasis added]

And I was thinking about it this week. What if the church stopped growing? What if we shrunk? What if everything fell apart? What if half the staff left? Would I still worship Jesus or would I be a total despairing mess? I don’t know. By God’s grace, I won’t have to find out, but you never know. So we’re going to look for your idols, too. Some questions. Think about it. Be honest with me. What are you most afraid of? What is your greatest fear? See, that probably tells you what your idol is. Sometimes your idol is the thing that you’re scared of not having, not being, not doing. What are you scared of? You scared that you’ll be alone? Are you scared that no one will ever love you? Are you scared that you will be found out that you’re not all that smart? Are you scared that you’ll be stuck in the same dead-end job forever? What are you afraid of?
And this year Driscoll claims he got permission from God to quit before he'd ever have to find out. 

over in the Ukraine, a statue of Lenin gets a make-over into a statue of Darth Vader

any chance our Lenin in Fremont could get a comparable make-over? ;)

there's a couple of larger-scale projects incubating. Best to keep working on them rather than explain them too much in advance.  Rest assured, they are not scintillating reading.  One is a potentially sprawling music history rumination and the other is shaping up to be a general defense of the legitimacy of what has come to be known as watchblogging. Neither is exactly a small project. 

Oh, yes, and since it's the tenth anniversary of the start of Avatar: The Last Airbender a rant on the abject artistic failure of Legend of Korra is still taking shape.  It's terrible that such a great first series could lead to such a bad-as-the-prequels-to-Star-Wars trainwreck.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

a snarky post at Proper Discord (of course) discussing why bigger audio files are not necessarily better, with a riff on how there's no market for high-end TVs that reproduce infrared and ultraviolet light but ...
We might consider the amount of data required to transmit a page of text. As a text file, it might take up a few kilobytes. If we take a high resolution photograph of the page, it might yield a thousand times as much data, but when it is read aloud, it will sound exactly the same. We could use a microscope to photograph every fibre on the surface of the page, but if what we want to do is read the text, there’s a lot of data there we simply don’t need.

People don’t seem to have a problem with this when it comes to pictures. Nobody says “I won’t look at a website unless all the images are TIFF files”, because that’s plainly ridiculous. We’ve all seen badly compressed images on the Internet, and we’ve all seen beautiful ones too. We understand that “what it looks like” is the reliable measure of, well, what it looks like.

Eyes work differently to ears, though. Eyes are much harder to bamboozle with plausible-sounding pseudoscience. This is why there is no market for super-high-end TVs which reproduce infra-red and ultraviolet light. We all just accept that these are parts of the electromagnetic spectrum that we cannot see, and we leave it at that.